SPORT

BCCI plea to Sahara

KOLKATA OCT. 5. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has requested Sahara India to return as the sponsor of the Indian cricket team "in the best interests of the game.''

The Board president, Jagmohan Dalmiya, confirmed on Saturday that the BCCI had sent a letter to the Sahara Group requesting it to return to sponsorship of the Indian cricket team. "It was extremely unfair on a company that was patronising sport to such a great extent to be elbowed out from the International Cricket Council (ICC) Champions' Trophy 2002 in such a manner,'' he opined.

Mr. Dalmiya took up the matter of not allowing Sahara to sponsor the Indian team during the ICC meet in the ICC Executive Board meeting held in Colombo earlier this week so that Sahara could be given a fair opportunity in the next ICC event, the 2003 World Cup, to be played in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya.

The BCCI chief had explained to the other directors of the ICC Board that when the event was played two years ago at Nairobi (Kenya), preference was given to the team sponsor's logo even if it was in conflict with the ICC's sponsor. But the position was diametrically opposite in case of the 2002 event.

The ICC had ruled out the sponsorship of Sahara in the ICC events on the plea that it was in conflict with its sponsor, the South African Airways. A number of logo options even with different product categories were sent to the ICC but these were not accepted by the world governing body.

While appealing to the company to actively reconsider its earlier stand of not sponsoring the Indian cricket team, Mr. Dalmiya averred, "it is not the question of money or getting an alternative sponsor, but it is the question of patronage and support that Sahara has offered to cricket over the years that prompted the BCCI to appeal.''

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